Do you Need an ERP Implementation Consultant?

If you’ve been through an ERP implementation project before, or if you are currently in the middle of one, then skip this article, because you already know everything in this article. However, if you are in the early planning stages of your ERP project, or are still working on project approval, then take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the role ERP implementation consultants will play in your project. This will accelerate learning, and help you ask better questions during the sales cycle.

ERP implementation consultants are people who have built an ERP system using your specific software one or more times in the past, and, based on that experience, will help you design, configure, and launch your ERP system. Implementation consultants can either be independent contractors, or they can be full time employees of an ERP consulting firm.

How Much?

ERP implementation consultants are not cheap. If you kept a good consultant on-site for fifty weeks, forty hours a week, out of pocket expenses would normally be around $300,000 plus an additional 15% -20% for travel and living expenses. Choosing an An ERP consultant with advanced skills, highly specialized skills, or project management skills can cost twice that. You can find cheaper alternatives, although each alternative comes with different sorts of problems and risks. Some companies will offer an “off-shore” rate, which means your consultant actually works and lives in a foreign country while assigned to your project. Another alternative is “landed off-shore”, which means foreign nationals are flown over to live and work here, and be on site for the duration of the project. Their verbal communication skills are wildly variable, so that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. You can also take a chance on young or less experienced people who just don’t have the resume to claim to be an experienced ERP consultant.

The consultant lifestyle is not easy. Unless they are lucky enough to land a project in their hometown, four nights a week are spent sleeping alone in a hotel far from home; they eat a steady diet of restaurant food; twice a week they go through the hassle of flying, and in between times they are expected to be energetic, socially adept, and have instant answers to all of their client’s problems. They are expected to seamlessly juggle their personal life, the demands of their company, and the demands of their client without complaint.

Finally, be realistic about the fact that there are very ERP good implementation consultants, and there are very bad ERP implementation consultants, and the difference between the two is not always obvious from the vetting and interviewing process. Reference checks will help verify if a consultant is very good, but rarely help identify poor talent. Hiring a consulting firm instead of individual contractors can help reduce the risk, but even consulting firms have poor performers who they are trying to improve.

Implementation consultants are neither super heroes nor villains. If they are good, they bring important knowledge to the ERP project and transfer it effectively. That’s worth paying for.

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Phil Marshall

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Phil Marshall